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Torture, rendition, and other abuses against captives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere

 
  

Project: Prisoner abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

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September 20, 2001

       “On September 11, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country,” President Bush says in a speech delivered before a joint session of the US Congress. The enemy, he declares, is the al-Qaeda organization, led by Osama bin Laden, and aided by the Taliban government of Afghanistan. But defeating them alone will not be enough. “Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated.” It is thus that the president declares the commencement of the unlimited Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). “Americans should not expect one battle,” Bush continues, “but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen.” The campaign will be fought both visibly and in secret. “It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. ... Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” [Sources: Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People, President Bush, 9/20/2001]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, US Congress
          

November 19, 2001

       When asked under what terms the US might be willing to accept a surrender from Taliban Leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, Rumsfeld reponds: “The United States is not inclined to negotiate surrenders, nor are we in a position, with relatively small numbers of forces on the ground, to accept prisoners. ... Any idea that those people in that town who have been fighting so viciously and who refuse to surrender should end up in some sort of a negotiation which would allow them to leave the country and go off and destabilize other countries and engage in terrorist attacks on the United States is something that I would certainly do everything I could to prevent. They're people who have done terrible things. ... The idea of their getting out of the country and going off to make their mischief somewhere else is not a happy prospect. So my hope is that they will either be killed or taken prisoner [by the Northern Alliance].” [Times of London, 11/20/2001; Department of Defense, 11/19/2001]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

November 20, 2001

       When US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is asked by a reporter what the US might do to prevent Chechen and the Arab Taliban soldiers surrendering in Kunduz from going free, Rumsfeld responds, “It would be most unfortunate if the foreigners in Afghanistan—the al-Qaeda and the Chechens and others who have been there working with the Taliban—if those folks were set free and in any way allowed to go to another country and cause the same kind of terrorist acts.” [Associated Press, 11/22/2001; Fox News, 11/22/2001; Department of Defense, 11/20/2001]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

December 19, 2001

       Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz admits interrogations of individuals, who were captured when the al-Qaeda stronghold near Tora Bora fell two days before, have not yielded timely information on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. “Most of what I've seen seems to be second-hand reports—that we're not talking to people who are at least telling us that they met with bin Laden or they talked with bin Laden,” he says. “I think one guy claims that he saw bin Laden from several hundred yards away. It's that quality of information.” He added: “It was a pretty confused situation.” [Associated Press, 12/19/2001]
People and organizations involved: Paul Wolfowitz, Osama bin Laden
          

January 1, 2002

       In response to criticisms from the public, media, and human rights organizations concerning the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld remarks, “I do not feel the slightest concern at their treatment. They are being treated vastly better than they treated anybody else.” [BBC, 1/15/2002]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

January 20, 2002

       US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld describes the prisoners being held in Guantanamo as “hard-core, well-trained terrorists.” [Guardian, 2/21/2004; NBC News, 1/20/2002 cited in Amnesty International, 8/19/2004]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

January 20, 2002

       Attorney General John Ashcroft publicly defends the president's decision (see January 18, 2002) to deny detainees the protections of Geneva Convention. He calls them “terrorists” who “are uniquely dangerous.” [CNN, 1/22/2002]
People and organizations involved: John Ashcroft
          

January 22, 2002

       Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, hold at a press conference. Rumsfeld answers several questions regarding the detainees at Guantanamo. In response to a comment from a reporter, Rumsfeld says: “These people are committed terrorists. We are keeping them off the street and out of the airlines and out of nuclear power plants and out of ports across this country and across other countries.” When asked about how they are being treated, he says: “I am telling you what I believe in every inch of my body to be the truth, and I have spent a lot of time on secure video with the people down there. ... I haven't found a single scrap of any kind of information that suggests that anyone has been treated anything other than humanely.” Commenting on criticisms coming from across the Atlantic, Rumsfeld says: “The allegations that have been made by many from a comfortable distance that the men and women in the US armed forces are somehow not properly treating the detainees under their charge are just plain false. ... It is amazing the insight that parliamentarians can get from 5,000 miles away.” [Department of Defense, 1/22/2002]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Peter Pace  Additional Info 
          

January 27, 2002

       Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney describes the Guantanamo prisoners: “These are the worst of a very bad lot. They are very dangerous. They are devoted to killing millions of Americans, innocent Americans, if they can, and they are perfectly prepared to die in the effort.” [Fox News, 1/28/2002]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

January 27, 2002

       During a visit to Guantanamo, Rumsfeld repeats his earlier viewpoint that the prisoners are “among the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth.” [Fox News, 1/28/2002; American Forces Press Service, 1/27/2002]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

January 28, 2002

       Referring to the Guantanamo detainees, President Bush tells the press: “These killers—these are killers ... These are killers. These are terrorists.” [White House, 1/28/2002]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

February 8, 2002

       Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says during a Pentagon press briefing that the US will “continue” to treat Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners humanely. “In short, we will continue to treat them consistent with the principles of fairness, freedom, and justice that our nation was founded on, the principles that they obviously abhor and which they sought to attack and destroy. Notwithstanding the isolated pockets of international hyperventilation, we do not treat detainees in any manner other than a manner that is humane.” [US Department of State, 2/08/2002]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

March 20, 2002

       President Bush tells reporters during a visit to Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School in Alexandria: “Remember these are—the ones in Guantanamo Bay are killers. They don't share the same values we share.” [White House, 3/20/2002; Human Rights Watch, 1/9/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

June 10, 2002

       Attorney General John Ashcroft announces Padilla's arrest (see June 9, 2002), claiming that “in apprehending [Padilla] as he sought entry into the United States,” the US government has “disrupted an unfolding terrorist plot to attack the United States by exploding a radioactive ‘dirty bomb.’ ” [CBS News, 6/10/2002] Similarly, President Bush says: “This guy, Padilla, is a bad guy. And he is where he needs to be—detained,” along with many other “would-be killers” as part of the war on terrorism. And Rumsfeld too, states that Padilla “was unquestionably involved in terrorist activities.” [CNN, 6/11/2002] Padilla becomes publicly known as the “dirty-bomber.”
People and organizations involved: John Ashcroft, George W. Bush, Jose Padilla, Donald Rumsfeld
          

June 11, 2002

       In Doha, Qatar, Rumsfeld says the purpose of detaining Padilla is to obtain information from him. “Our interest, really, in this case, is not law enforcement,” he says. “It is not punishment. Because he was a terrorist or working with the terrorists, our interest at the moment is to try to find out everything he knows so hopefully we can stop other terrorist acts.” To illustrate his argument, Rumsfeld describes a recent situation in which intelligence gained from a prisoner in Kandahar led to the prevention of three terrorist attacks in Singapore. “If someone had said when we found that information or that person, ‘Well, now, let's arrest the person and let's start the process of punishing that person for having done what he did,’ we never would have gotten that information, and people would have died.” [American Forces Press Service, 6/11/2002]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Jose Padilla
          

December 11, 2002

       CIA Director Tenet says in a speech, “The Saudis are [providing] increasingly important support to our counterterrorism efforts, from making arrests to sharing debriefing results.” [Washington Post, 12/26/2002] Several terrorist suspects have been sent to Saudi Arabia for interrogation as part of a special program, known as “rendition.” But US officials often “remain closely involved”with the questioning (see 1993-2004).
People and organizations involved: George Tenet
          

December 27, 2002

       Human Rights Watch writes to President Bush about the allegations of torture reported in the Washington Post (see December 26, 2002), asking that the allegations be investigated immediately. [Human Rights Watch 12/26/02; Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004; BBC 12/26/02; The News 12/27/02; Washington Post 12/28/02] White House spokesman Scott McClellan denies that US interrogation practices violate international law and indicates no interest on the part of the administration to investigate the allegations. “We are not aware we have received the letter. ... [W]e believe we are in full compliance with domestic and international law, including domestic and international law dealing with torture.” He adds that combatants detained by the US are always treated “humanely, in a manner consistent with the third Geneva Convention.” [Washington Post 12/28/02]
People and organizations involved: Scott McClellan, Human Rights Watch  Additional Info 
          

December 29, 2002

       A US military spokesman for Bagram, Maj. Steve Clutter, says allegations reported in the Washington Post (see December 26, 2002) are unfounded. He claims that the Washington Post article was “false on several points, the first being that there is no CIA detention facility on Bagram.” He says, “The accusation of inhumane treatment is something that I can clearly refute. The things that they talked about, the inhumane conditions ... are things that do not go on here.” [Agence France-Presse, 12/29/2002] “There is a facility run by the US Army, however, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that persons under control of the US Army have been mistreated,” he explains. “A doctor examines them daily. They have access to medical care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They have dental care. They sleep in a warm facility and have three meals a day that are prepared according to Islamic cultural and religious norms. When they arrive, they go through an interview process to determine whether they are enemy combatants or have information that can help us prevent terrorist attacks against Americans or attacks against US forces. During this interview process, they are treated as humanely as possible. We routinely allow visits, about once a week, from the International Committee of the Red Cross to ensure their treatment is humane. If they are deemed to be enemy combatants or pose a danger, they become detainees. If they are not, they are ultimately released.” [Reuters, 12/28/2002]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Clutter
          

January 28, 2003

       George Bush says in his State of the Union address: “[M]ore than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Put it this way, they're no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.” [The White House, 1/28/2003]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

February 11, 2003

       In Munich, in reference to the imminent war on Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is asked whether the US is bound by any international system, legal framework or code of conduct. Avoiding a direct answer, Rumsfeld replies: “I honestly believe that every country ought to do what it wants to do .... It either is proud of itself afterwards, or it is less proud of itself.” [The Guardian, 2/11/2004]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

March 2003

       Lt. Gen. Daniel K. McNeill, US troop commander in Afghanistan, tells the New York Times that prisoners are forced to stand for long periods at Bagram, but denies that they have been chained to the ceilings. “Our interrogation techniques are adapted,” he says. “They are in accordance with what is generally accepted as interrogation techniques, and if incidental to the due course of this investigation [of Dilawar's death (see December 10, 2002)], we find things that need to be changed, we will certainly change them.” [New York Times, 3/4/2003]
People and organizations involved: Daniel K. McNeill, Dilawar
          

March 14, 2003

       When an Associated Press reporter asks the US military to comment on the accounts of two former Afghan detainees (see December 10, 2002) (see December 3, 2002), spokesman Roger King claims their accounts are mostly untrue. “Some of the stuff they are saying sounds like partial truths, some of it's completely bogus,” he says. “They were stripped naked probably to prevent them from sneaking weapons into the facility. That's why someone may be stripped.... We do force people to stand for an extended period of time.... Disruption of sleep has been reported as an effective way of reducing people's inhibition about talking or their resistance to questioning....They are not allowed to speak to one another. If they do, they can plan together or rely on the comfort of one another. If they're caught speaking out of turn, they can be forced to do things—like stand for a period of time—as payment for speaking out.” [Associated Press, 3/14/03; New York Times, 3/4/2003 cited in Amnesty International, 8/19/2003]
People and organizations involved: Roger King
          

April 30, 2003

       The one-time CIA Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Cofer Black, says that “a large number of terrorist suspects were not able to launch an attack last year because they are in prison.” He claims that “more than 3,000” detainees in US custody are al-Qaeda terrorists who were arrested in over 100 countries. [Human Rights First, 6/2004]
People and organizations involved: Cofer Black
          

June 26, 2003

       In honor of United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, President Bush releases a statement saying that the US is “committed to the world-wide elimination of torture and [is] leading this fight by example.” Bush calls on all nations to join the US in “prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent cruel and unusual punishment.” In his speech he also condemns countries who have refused to admit international human rights monitors into their facilities. “Notorious human rights abusers, including, among others, Burma, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Zimbabwe, have long sought to shield their abuses from the eyes of the world by staging elaborate deceptions and denying access to international human rights monitors.” [Whites House, 6/26/2003; Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

July 1, 2003-November 3, 2003

       Two Iranian journalists, Saeed Abou Taleb and Sohail Karimi, who are filming a documentary video in Iraq, are arrested and detained. Upon being released 126 days later, they say that they were subjected to “severe torture.” “The detention was unimaginable,” Taleb says to Iranian state television after the two make it back into Iran. “The first 10 days were like a nightmare. We were subjected to severe torture.” [Agence France Presse, 11/4/2003] When a US spokesman is asked about the allegations, he responds, “The coalition does not mistreat anyone in its custody—full stop.” [Agence France Presse, 11/4/2003]
People and organizations involved: Saeed Abou Taleb, Sohail Karimi
          

July 2, 2003

       President Bush, responding to the news of the continuous and mounting stream of attacks on coalition troops, says: “There are some who feel that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring 'em on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation.” In reference to the administration's state goal of peace in the Middle East, Bush says: “I mean, there are people there who still hate. They hate Israel. They hate the idea of peace. They can't stand the thought of a peaceful state existing side-by-side with Israel. And they may be willing to attack. And what we must continue to do is to reject that kind of thought.” A delegation of senators visiting Iraq mirrors the president's message. “This coalition of armed forces is never, ever going to give in, irrespective of what is thrown at it,” says Republican Sen. John W. Warner. “It will never give in until freedom replaces the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and his regime.” Democrat Sen. Carl Levin says: “We need the patience to stay the course.” However, Jay Garner, replaced by Paul Bremer as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, noted earlier in the week that it “appears now that it's taken on a guerrilla war nature, so we might need more” troops. [New York Times, 7/2/2003]
People and organizations involved: John W. Warner, George W. Bush, Paul Bremer, Carl Levin, Saddam Hussein, Jay Garner  Additional Info 
          

October 9, 2003

       The senior International Red Cross official in Washington, Christophe Girod, tells the New York Times: “The open-endedness of the situation [at Guantanamo] and its impact on the mental health of the population has become a major problem.” He makes this unusual public statement because previous private communications with the US government has not yielded results. “One cannot keep these detainees in this pattern, this situation, indefinitely,” Girod says. White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, says: “These individuals are terrorists or supporters of terrorism and we are at war on terrorism and the reasons for detaining enemy combatants in the first place is to gather intelligence and make sure that these enemy combatants don't return to help our enemies plot attacks or carry out attacks on the United States.” In the past 18 months, 21 detainees have made 32 suicide attempts. More detainees are treated for depression. [BBC, 10/10/2003]
People and organizations involved: International Committee of the Red Cross, Scott McClellan, Christophe Girod
          

October 17, 2003

       At Guantanamo, Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller says: “We are developing information of enormous value to the nation, enormously valuable intelligence. We have an enormously thorough process that has very high resolution and clarity ... I think of Guantanamo as the interrogation battle lab in the war against terror.” There is a six-fold increase, according to Miller, in the “high-value” intelligence achieved, and all due to a system of offering rewards in the shape of privileges and better conditions. He tells British reporter David Rose that the increase in intelligence productivity is the result of having the option to subject prisoners to harsher conditions. [The Guardian, 10/3/2004]
People and organizations involved: Geoffrey D. Miller
          

October 18, 2003

       President Bush is asked in an Australian television interview, whether two Australians held prisoner at Guantanamo Bay are being tortured. He replies: “No, of course. We don't torture people in America. And people who make that claim just don't know anything about our country.” However, as Amnesty International points out, “On that same day, it was revealed that eight US soldiers had been charged with acts of brutality against prisoners of war in Iraq. One of the prisoners had died.” [Amnesty International, 10/20/2003]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

November 7, 2003

       President Bush says in a speech that Syria has left “a legacy of torture, oppression, misery and ruin.” [Washington Post, 11/20/2003]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

November 18, 2003

       In an interview with the St. Petersburg Times, Army Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski says that for many of the prisoners, “living conditions now are better in prison than at home. At one point we were concerned they wouldn't want to leave.” But when asked for details on the detention of top Baath Party officials, she would only say that they were being detained under “appropriate arrangements.” [St. Petersburg Times, 12/14/2003]
People and organizations involved: Janis L. Karpinski
          

November 20, 2003

       Looking back at the invasion of Iraq, Richard Perle, former member of the Defense Policy Board at the US Ministry of Defense, admits: “I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing.” [The Guardian, 11/20/2003]
People and organizations involved: Richard Perle
          

December 29, 2003

       Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo says: “This country has become a battlefield, and [terrorists] will kill us anywhere they can. All you have to do is go to lower Manhattan and see the hole in the ground.” [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 12/29/2003]
People and organizations involved: Nazia Hussein
          

March 12, 2004

       In a statement, British former Guantanamo prisoner Tarek Dergoul “condemns the US and UK governments for allowing these gross breaches of human rights and demands the release of all the other detainees.” His treatment included “botched medical treatment, interrogation at gunpoint, beatings and inhumane conditions.” The statement adds: “Tarek finds it very difficult to talk about these things and his family believe his mental health has been severely affected by the trauma he has suffered.” When confronted with the allegations of Dergoul and Jamal Udeen, a Pentagon spokeswoman describes these as “simply lies.” The same day, Secretary of State Colin Powell says in a television interview that he believes the US treats the detainees at Guantanamo “in a very, very humanitarian way.” And he adds, “Because we are Americans, we don't abuse people in our care.” [The Guardian, 3/13/2004]
People and organizations involved: Jamal Udeen, Tarek Dergoul, Colin Powell
          

May 3, 2004

       White House spokesman Scott McClellan says President Bush still has not seen or been briefed on the Taguba report (see February 26, 2004). [US Department of Defense, 5/12/2004]
People and organizations involved: Scott McClellan
          

May 4, 2004

       Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller says during a Coalition Provisional Authority briefing that while physical contact between the interrogator and detainees is prohibited, “sleep deprivation and stress positions and all that could be used—but they must be authorized.” (see April 16, 2003) But as Amnesty International later notes in a letter to George Bush, “The United Nations Committee against Torture, the expert body established by the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has expressly held that restraining detainees in very painful positions, hooding, threats, and prolonged sleep deprivation are methods of interrogation which violate the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.” [Amnesty International, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Geoffrey D. Miller, George W. Bush, Amnesty International
          

May 4, 2004

       Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller plays down the significance of his role in the Abu Ghraib abuse, saying his team recommended in September 2003 “having the guard force passively involved in the ability to interrogate rapidly and effectively.” [Washington Post, 5/9/2004]
People and organizations involved: Geoffrey D. Miller
          

May 4, 2004

       Secretary of State Colin Powell explains the US's position regarding the abuse at Abu Ghraib before the United Nations. “The one thing you can be sure of is that justice will be done,” he says. “We are a nation of justice. These sorts of actions are not tolerated, and these individuals will be brought into our military justice system and will be dealt with in a way the world can observe and watch.” He also says, “It is just a few number of troops,” compared to “hundreds of thousands of young men and women” in the US Armed Forces. [Coalition Provisional Authority, 5/4/2004]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell
          

May 4, 2004

       To a question regarding allegations of abuse at Guantanamo, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld answers: “That is a pattern and a practice of terrorists, to allege abuse.” When a reporter uses the word “torture” in relation to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, he responds: “I'm not a lawyer. My impression is that what has been charged thus far is abuse, which I believe technically is different from torture.” He adds: “I don't know if ... it is correct to say ..., that torture has taken place, or that there's been a conviction for torture. And therefore I'm not going to address the torture word.” [US Department of Defense, 5/4/2004]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

May 5, 2004

       The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, tells the CBS News “Early Show”: “Those soldiers were not following orders.” [CBS News, 5/5/2004]
People and organizations involved: Peter Pace
          

May 5, 2004

       President Bush appears on two Arab television channels, the US-funded Al-Hurra network and the Al-Arabiya satellite channel. The interviews last ten minutes for each station. He says: “People in Iraq must understand that I view those practices as abhorrent. ...must also understand that what took place in that prison does not represent the America that I know.” He adds: “The America that I know has sent troops to Iraq to promote freedom.” [CBS News, 5/5/2004] During the interviews, Bush is not asked to make an apology and nor does he offer one. [BBC, 5/5/2004] Later in the day, White House spokesman Scott McClellan uses the word “sorry” a half-dozen times. “The president is sorry for what occurred and the pain it has caused.” Asked why the president has not apologized himself, McClellan says: “I'm saying it now for him.” [CBS News, 5/5/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Scott McClellan
          

May 7, 2004

       Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appears before the Senate to express his dismay over the abuse. The incidents of abuse, Rumsfeld says, “sullied the reputation of our country. I was stunned. It was a body blow.” [NBC News, 5/13/2004]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

May 11, 2004

       Republican Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma causes considerable astonishment when he says during a Senate committee hearing that he is “more outraged by the outrage,” than by the abuse of the prisoners. He says, “I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment.” He continues: “These prisoners, they're murderers, they're terrorists, they're insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands. And here we're so concerned about the treatment of those individuals.” He adds, “I am also outraged that we have so many humanitarian do-gooders right now crawling all over these prisons, looking for human rights violations while our troops, our heroes, are fighting and dying.” [New York Times, 5/11/2004] An editorial in the New York Times calls Inhofe's comment “astounding.” [New York Times (Editorial), 5/12/2004]
People and organizations involved: James M. Inhofe
          

May 13, 2004

       President Bush says he has been “disgraced” by the abuse at Abu Ghraib. [New York Times, 5/13/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

May 14, 2004

       President Bush, referring to the Abu Ghraib scandal, alleges it is “the cruelty of a few” that “has brought discredit to their uniform and embarrassment to our country.” [Concordia University, Mequon, Wisconsin, 5/14/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

Early June 2004

       Gen. James T. Hill says Guantanamo is “a professional, humane detention and interrogation operation ... bounded by law and guided by the American spirit.” [Wall Street Journal, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: James T. Hill
          

June 8, 2004

       Attorney General John Ashcroft tells a Senate committee, “This administration rejects torture.” [The Guardian, 6/9/2004] When asked whether torture might be justified in certain situations, Ashcroft responds, “I condemn torture. I don't think it's productive, let alone justified.” [Washington Post, 6/8/2004] With regard to President Bush's involvement, he says: “Let me completely reject the notion that anything that this president has done or the Justice Department has done has directly resulted in the kind of atrocity which were cited. That is false.” [The Guardian, 6/9/2004] Ashcroft adds, “There is no presidential order immunizing torture.” [Washington Post, 6/8/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, John Ashcroft
          

June 10, 2004

       President Bush rejects the notion that he approved the use of torture. “The authorization I gave,” the president says, “was that all we did should be in accordance with American law and consistent with our international treaty obligations. That's the message I gave our people.” He adds, “What I authorized was that we stay within the framework of American law.” And to emphasize his point, he says: “Listen, I'll say it one more time. ... The instructions that were given were to comply with the law. That should reassure you. We are a nation of laws. We follow the law. We have laws on our books. You could go look at those laws and that should reassure you.” [White House, 6/10/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

June 22, 2004

       President Bush, responding to questions regarding reports that prisoners have been tortured in Iraq, says: “Let me make very clear the position of my government and our country: We do not condone torture. I have never ordered torture. I will never order torture. The values of this country are such that torture is not a part of our soul and our being.” [Washington Post, 6/23/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

June 22, 2004

       Aides to President Bush, including Alberto Gonzales, publicly renounce the internal memo of August 1, 2002 (see August 1, 2002) that outlined a legal opinion by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). They say it created the false impression that the US government was claiming the right to authorize interrogation techniques in violation of international law. Gonzales agrees that some of its conclusions were “controversial” and “subject to misinterpretation.” [Washington Post, 6/23/2004] The White House announces that all legal advice rendered by the OLC on interrogations will be reviewed and that sections of the August memo will be rewritten. Gonzales says the section in the memo arguing that the president, as Commander-in-Chief, is not bound by anti-torture laws is “unnecessary.” Justice Department officials also say the section will be scrapped. [Washington Post, 6/27/2004] In his introductory statement, however, Gonzales describes the circumstances under which the memo had come about: “We face an enemy that lies in the shadows, an enemy that doesn't sign treaties, they don't wear uniforms, an enemy that owes no allegiance to any country, they do not cherish life. An enemy that doesn't fight, attack, or plan according to accepted laws of war, in particular Geneva Conventions.” [White House, 6/22/2004] Gonzales claims that giving these people a protected status under the Geneva Conventions would be tantamount to rewarding the terrorists' lawlessness. “[T]o protect terrorists when they ignore the law is to give incentive to continued ignoring that law,” he says. [White House, 6/22/2004] Gonzales says he thinks that Bush never actually saw the August 2002 memo: “I don't believe the president had access to any legal opinions from the Department of Justice.” [New York Times, 6/24/2004]
People and organizations involved: Alberto R. Gonzales, George W. Bush
          

June 23, 2004

       Senator Ernest F. Hollings writes: “Heretofore, the world looked to the United States to do the right thing. No more. The United States has lost its moral authority.” [Truthout, 6/23/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ernest F. Hollings
          

June 26, 2004

       On the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, President Bush says: “America stands against and will not tolerate torture. We will investigate and prosecute all acts of torture ... in all territory under our jurisdiction. ... Torture is wrong no matter where it occurs, and the United States will continue to lead the fight to eliminate it everywhere.” [White House, 6/26/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

Early November 2004

       Pentagon spokeswoman Navy Cpt. Beci Brenton says defends the Combatant Status Review Tribunals being held at Guantanamo are fair. “We think this is a professional process, she says. It's very rigorous. It's fair. We take extra steps to make sure the detainees understand the process, and they are given a good opportunity to speak for themselves.” [Los Angeles Times, 11/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Beci Brenton
          


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